A conference in Adelaide has heard how global warming could begin to affect the wine industry, with a possible negative impact on grape quality.

The second Wine Industry Environment Conference, which has been discussing environmental management in viticulture and wine production, heard that climate change is likely to cause temperature increases of up to six degrees during the 21st century, resulting in reduced water availability.

"Higher temperatures will tend to cause the various stages of wine development to occur more rapidly," said Kathleen McInnes of the CSIRO. "That means that you'll probably get ripening in the hotter months and therefore the reduced window of opportunity for harvesting and that could lead to a reduced quality of the grapes."

The conference was also told that the wine industry's approach to the environment was the most serious potential impediment to trade over the next 10 years.

Tony Battaglene, director of the Canberra Wine Bureau, said the threat of "pseudo-environmental measures to restrict trade" was so severe that the Australian wine industry would lose key export markets unless it focused on best environmental practice.

"It is clear the European agenda is to use environmental policy to restrict trade," Battaglene said, adding that such policies might be used to overcome pressures caused by the inevitable reduction in subsidies to EU wine producers, static demand for wine, and the increased general availability of good quality wine.